Dolphins Playoff Picture Clearer (And Better) After Jets Loss
The Miami Dolphins can clinch the playoffs in Week 17 without any outside help
The New York Jets’ performance on Thursday night football could accurately be described as ugly, but it most definitely was beautiful when it comes to the Miami Dolphins’ playoff outlook.
The Dolphins didn’t need any outside help at the start of Week 16 to earn their first playoff berth since 2016, but their path got significantly smoother and easier following the Jets’ 19-3 home loss against the Jacksonville Jaguars that featured 2021 second overall pick Zach Wilson benched in the third quarter in favor of former CFL QB Chris Streveler, the same Chris Streveler who the Dolphins signed in February only to release him before the start of OTAs after they drafted Skylar Thompson in the seventh round.
In any event, the Jets loss improved the Dolphins’ playoff chances from 72 to 78 percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com.
The Dolphins now can clinch a playoff spot in Week 17 simply by winning their next two games — against the Green Bay Packers at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, and at New England on New York’s Day.
The idea of winning the AFC East title pretty much disappeared last Saturday night because the Dolphins would have to go 3-0 in their final three games and have the Bills go 0-3 against Chicago, Cincinnati and New England.
But a 3-0 finish by the Dolphins could open the door to the possibility of getting the No. 5 seed and facing the AFC South champion (Tennessee or Jacksonville) in the first round.
Baltimore currently holds that No. 5 spot with a 9-5 record and closes the season at home against Atlanta and Pittsburgh, and on the road against AFC North leader Cincinnati.
If the Dolphins and Ravens both finish at 11-6, the Dolphins would get the higher seed because of their Week 2 victory at Baltimore. But the caveat there is that the Chargers also could finish at 11-6 — they close at Indianapolis, at home against the Rams and at Denver — and they would get the tiebreaker advantage.
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OTHER DOLPHINS PLAYOFF SCENARIOS
After the Jets loss against Jacksonville, the Dolphins will make the playoffs in any scenarios where they finish 2-1 EXCEPT if the loss is against New England in Week 16 and the Patriots also defeat Cincinnati on Saturday and the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium in Week 17.
If they finish 1-2, the Dolphins still could make the playoffs, though they would need outside help. Their percentage with one victory in the final three games, according to fivethirtyeight.com, is 75 percent if that one win came against the Jets, 64 percent if that one win came against New England, and 33 percent if the Dolphins defeat Green Bay but lose their final two against the AFC East opponent.
Only because we want to be thorough, we also have to include the worst-case scenario, and in the event of an 0-3 finish, the Dolphins would have no chance of making the playoffs.
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